Last July, the city announced a new waterfront development plan that would bring thousands of housing units, a school, commercial and manufacturing space and public parkland to Long Island City.
Since the announcement, Long Island City residents have been vocal about their opposition to the plan and are arguing that they should have more say over the future of the two city-owned lots on 44th Drive. On April 10, residents and elected officials will rally in front of City Hall to ask that the city restart the Request for Proposals (RFP) process and ask residents about what they want to see.
LIC Coalition, a community group, will rally in front of City Hall at 11 a.m. on Tuesday along with groups such as the Court Square Civic Association, LIC Climate Coalition, Hunters Point Civic Association and elected officials like Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, state Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan.
Though officials touted the project as something that would bring “good, middle-class jobs” and a “state-of-the-art” school to the neighborhood, people are skeptical. The Economic Development Corporation called the proposal “the first of its kind industrial-commercial-residential project.”
Located along the waterfront at 44th Drive, the two lots currently house a a parking lot for the Department of Transportation and a Department of Education facility. TF Cornerstone, a developer with several buildings in Long Island City, was chosen to build the project.
In an interview with QNS, TF Cornerstone argued that the plan would not only build new residential units but would focus on maximizing non-residential uses like commercial space and creating new jobs. The developer is seeking a rezoning to construct this project.
TF Cornerstone is working with partners C4Q to bring workforce training to local residents and the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center (GMDC) to construct 100,000 square feet of affordable manufacturing space. The plan will also include 400,000 square feet of commercial space.
A 600-seat elementary school, a performing arts space with dance studios for choreographers and dance companies and 1,000 units of housing with approximately 25 percent of units deemed affordable, are also included in the plan.
Residents, on the other hand, say the city should restart the RFP process and should take into account what impact a project of this scale would have on the neighborhood’s “education, transportation and sanitary infrastructure.”
“Additionally, the city should bolster the business and manufacturing community that already exists in LIC before creating a new economy that has no framework exacerbating already deficient infrastructure,” LIC Coalition wrote in a press release. “A comprehensive community plan would also require evaluating development sites in light of the current re-drawing of city flood zones, an effort currently underway by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) as well as expectant sea-level rise.”
In a rally last month, residents said they wanted “public land for public use.”
Diane Hendry, a Long Island City resident and member of LIC Coalition, said the city is forcing their vision upon residents when they should be asking for input.
“Long Island City is short on school seats,” she said. “We need jobs for people who live at NYCHA, we need job training, we need artists that have protected places to work. We see this location, we envision it as a place to really serve the comm as opposed to having something forced on us that we don’t really think is necessary.
Residents are asking that the DOT facility be turned into a community recreation center, “which could include a swimming pool, a skating rink, basketball courts and other activities,” they wrote in a petition.
The sites also sit next to “Lake Vernon,” which the community believes should become a wetland park. In addition, they are requesting that the Department of Education building be dedicated for “school seats, artist and light manufacturing space, a cultural center, a climate change educational center, job training, space for NGOs and other community benefits.”
Van Bramer, who spoke at the rally last month, has said that the project “does not meet community needs.”
“I stand with the community and urge the mayor and EDC to reevaluate what is being considered for this site, which after all is public land,” he said in a statement.